Living in Brussels has been an adventure everyday and I feel like I am getting to know the city, the University of Brussels and the population a little better everyday. First of all, there is also something that is very special in Brussels, it is called TD. TD should not be confused with TP (travaux pratiques or lab/tutorials), or travail à domicile (homework). TD is the abbreviation for thé dansant and is basically a party. But the TD in Brussels is a place near the Plaine Campus of ULB and it is Monday to Thursday. You get to party, but you need to wear old/dirty clothes. The music is great, beer price is reasonable, people throw their plastic beer glass after they are done drinking; people are there to have a great time.
Secondly, ULB has great school spirit and you can feel and see it everywhere you go on the campus. There are a lot of clubs (or cercle like they say here at ULB: University Libre de Bruxelles). There are cercles for each faculty (e.g. psychology faculty), but there are also “regional” faculties (e.g. there is a cercle for all the Luxembourgish students studying at ULB, and yes Luxembourg is a country, a very small country). All the members of a cercle wear a very unique uniform; they wear a robe that can have different colors and signs. And they wear a kind of baseball hat, that is longer at the front than regular hats. On each hat there are stars for each time they passed a grade and there are also other pictures or signs on it. However, to be part of a cercle you have to be baptized (bâtemes in French, or bizutage in France). There are several things in this baptism that you have to do before you get accepted and it lasts 3 weeks. In Canada we have froshweek, but it’s organized by the university and usually there is no alcohol involved. In France bizutage is illegal, but in Belgium it isn’t illegal but they are not allowed to do everything.
Finally, Brussels is a very cosmopolitan city not only because it’s in the heart of Europe and there is a European Parliament, but also because ULB accepts a lot of student exchange programs. I was invited to a Taiwanese lunch and I was pleasantly surprised to meet so many people from different countries (I met Bulgarian, Italian, Spanish, French, Turkish, Canadian and Russian students).
The host played the Ukalele and we listened to music from different countries (link to video is here). I really felt that afternoon the spirit of a student exchange program or Erasmus. Furthermore, I feel that Belgians are very friendly and they do not hesitate to talk to you and give you advice in the train, in the supermarket, when you ask them a question etc. Therefore I feel that Brussels’ population, Erasmus students and Belgians really made me feel welcome in their city.
Until next time,